Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

The New York Times’ Zachery Kouwe problem.

In an editor’s note in the New York Times, the paper reveals that reporter Zachery Kouwe “reused language from The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and other sources without attribution or acknowledgment … Copying language directly from other news organizations without providing attribution — even if the facts are independently verified — is a serious violation of Times policy and basic journalistic standards. It should not have occurred. The matter remains under investigation by The Times, which will take appropriate action consistent with our standards to protect the integrity of our journalism.”

Just how dumb do you need to be to steal from the Wall Street Journal … especially when you work for the New York Times? Cutting-and-pasting from a friend’s email, a la Maureen Dowd, is bad enough, but at least in that case you’d have a small chance you wouldn’t get caught. But people at the Times read the Journal, and vice versa, even if they don’t especially like it.

Have you read Kouwe’s new book about whaling? Here’s a brief excerpt:

"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! And since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!"

Good stuff. Hope it makes Oprah’s book club.

This comes as Gerald Posner got in trouble from Slate’s Jack Shafer for plagiarising, as Michael Sigman writes at HuffPost, adding some well- and lesser-known cases of musical borrowing – since his dad was Carl Sigman the songwriter.

This whole thing reminds me of the piece I did a couple years ago when Joe Satriani sued the band Coldplay for lifting a melody.

“There’s nothing new under the sun,” somebody said once.

(Check out John's weekly show Off-Ramp.)

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